2017 Florida Christmas (x2)

We’re luckier than most and have good friends (really family) that have allowed us to be part of their Christmas celebration essentially since their boys were born.  Eleven years ago they moved to north Florida, but we continue being together for the holiday.  Our Christmas starts with a drive to the ‘frigid’ north (more on that later).

Ponte Vedra Christmas 2017

wray tree

The details are hard to see in this photo, but Karen has a great tree, keeping  to a nautical theme.  She’s been collecting for a number of years and continues to add ones that catch her eye.

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We’ve also become friends with their neighbors and started our holiday weekend with dinner together.

xmas eve dinner (2)

While the steaks were really good, I LOVED the desserts, especially the cake.  Thanks Karen for making John’s favorite cake!  Good thing he took some home since it continued to ‘shrink’ throughout the weekend.

cakes

The boys graciously (kind of) allowed a few photos in front of the tree Christmas morning.  They were a lot more fun when they were younger – just saying.

Through the years, there have been a few traditions that are consistent each Christmas holiday.  One that Rich grew up with was Christmas morning sausage balls.  While it doesn’t involve a long list of ingredients (sausage, Bisquick & cheese), it’s kind of messy.  A twist  this year was the guys were ‘hands-on’ with making and cooking this breakfast delicacy.

Usually sharp cheddar cheese is used but this year another type of cheese was added – goat cheese.  Its great, as long as you like the flavor of goat cheese – it’s an acquired taste.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and breakfast is ready.  🙂

sausage ball 4

Another tradition is a visit to their nearby beach.  Some years have been warmer than others, this one wasn’t too bad.  We invite everyone but the group changes each year.  We had a nice addition today.

group at beach

We enjoyed a few appetizers in the afternoon, some of which appealed to a select few and others had a wider appeal.   The oysters were grilled and topped with herbed butter and Eric’s new smoked salt.  The second batch included grated cheddar cheese.

appetizer

The guys fried the turkey outside – it was the best yet.

The whole day was very laid-back.  Late afternoon the guys started on the turkey and we got the side dishes going inside.

plated turkey

We concluded our evening watching a recent Marvel movie release – Guardians of The Galaxy 2.  It was pretty good. Not sure my aunt really understood it……but she was a good sport and stayed through to the end.

After Karen left for work the next morning, we casually packed up our stuff (I’m sure we left something…) and went out for an early lunch with the boys.  We decided on Aunt Kate’s on the River for some seafood before leaving the area.

aunt kateBetween all of us we have a variety of appetizers and entres, sticking with the seafood theme.

aunt 6

After one last group photo, we headed south to Clermont.

Clermont Christmas 2017

gmd xmas tree

While hard to see, we also have a theme going on our tree……Mickey!  Oh yes, and also the Grinch – my favorite Christmas movie of all time.  🙂

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Another (much) smaller tree focuses on home-made ornaments and a paper chain the boys made for me before leaving this area.  I’ve kept it all these (11+) years and continue to find a place each year for it to be used.

gmd primitiveWe snacked on oysters, prior to unwrapping presents, adding some (home-grown) jalapeno for an extra kick.

oysters home 1.jpg

Some gifts were known, but we each had a few surprises under the tree.

beverly at xmas

At the top, I mentioned the ‘frigid north’.  We wore pants and jackets during part of our time in North Florida but once we got home – shorts were needed!  We laugh that the temps are so different, in just a few short travel hours within Florida.

Though not extensive, we did have a few additional holiday touches at home.  house front

While not usually shown in photos, we have two cats, one of which in past years caused much consternation with our Christmas tree.  She liked to climb the branches and we would return home to find (1) branches on the floor or (2) branches bent at an unnatural angle (she’s a big cat).  We actually strap the tree stand to the table and have used guide wires in the past to secure the tree to the bookcase behind it for extra security.  It appears that this year she finally outgrew that habit.  She’s keeping an eye on things, but from below and not above.

cali

It was a good Christmas!  🙂  The season started with my sister & husband’s visit early December and is almost over with New Year’s Eve rapidly approaching.  I’m leaving with a few photos courtesy of my sister (see, I gave you credit!).

anna tree

AND

hny

 

 

 

 

 

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